I was once reading Mahabarata, when I came across this epic story of Sathyavan & Savithri. The whole chapter was new to me. What amazed me in the entire story was the fact that an immense effort is required to be truthful from within. For those of us who do not know the story here it is.
Savitri was the beautiful daughter of a wise and powerful king. The fame of Savitri’s beauty spread far and wide, but she refused to marry, saying that she would herself go out in the world and find a husband for herself. So the king chose the best warriors to protect her, and the princess wandered throughout the country searching for a prince of her choice.
One day she reached a dense forest, where dwelt a king who had lost his kingdom and fallen into his bad days. Old and blind he lived in a small hut with his wife and son. The son, who was a handsome young prince, was the sole comfort of his parents. He chopped wood and sold it in the countryside, and bought food for his parents, and they lived in love and happiness.
Savitri was strongly drawn towards them, and she knew her search had come to an end. Savitri fell in love with the young prince, who was called Satyavan and was known for his legendary generosity.
Hearing that Savitri has chosen a penniless prince, her father was heavily downcast. But Savitri was hell-bent on marrying Satyavan. The king consented, but a saint informed him that a fatal curse laid upon the young prince: He is doomed to die within a year. The king told her daughter about the curse and asked her to choose someone else. But Savitri refused and stood firm in her determination to marry the same prince. The king finally agreed with a heavy heart.
The wedding of Savitri and Satyavan took place with a lot of fanfare, and the couple went back to the forest hut. For a whole year, they lived happily. On the last day of the year, Savitri rose early and when Satyavan picked up his axe to go into the forest to chop wood she requested him to take her along, and the two went into the jungle.
Under a tall tree, he made a seat of soft green leaves and plucked flowers for her to weave into a garland while he chopped wood. Towards noon Satyavan felt a little tired, and after a while, he came and lay down resting his head in Savitri’s lap. Suddenly the whole forest grew dark, and soon Savitri saw a tall figure standing before her. It was Yama, the God of Death. “I have come to take your husband,” said Yama, and looked down at Satyavan, as his soul left his body.
When Yama was about to leave, Savitri ran after him and pleaded Yama to take her too along with him to the land of the dead or give back the life of Satyavan. Yama replied, “Your time has not yet come, child. Go back to your home.” But Yama was ready to grant her any boon, except Satyavan’s life. Savitri asked, “Let me have wonderful sons.” “So be it”, replied Yama. Then Savitri said, “But how can I have sons without my husband, Satyavan? Therefore I beg of you to give back his life.” Yama had to give in! Satyavan’s body came back to life. He slowly woke up from the stupor and the two gladly walked back to their hut.
So strong was the single-minded love and determination of Savitri that she chose a noble young man for her husband, knowing that he had only a year to live, married him with all confidence. Even the God of Death had to relent and bowed to her love and devotion.
The tale of Satyavan and Savitri is recited in the Mahabharata as a story of eternal love conquering death. But this legend is, as shown by many features of the human tale, one of the many symbolic myths of the Vedic cycle.
Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance;
Savitri is the Divine Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save;
It is indeed a valuable lesson! Most of the time we work in our professional lives keeping the results in mind and if in case the results don’t look promising, , we tend to lose interest and focus in the process. But the point is, if we remain true to ourselves and use our God-given intelligence, we can definitely change the end result just like Savitri did in the story.
By : Ishwara Bhat K